*This went up accidentally on January 28 (it was intended for Panoramic Mindscapes), but since some managed to read and comment on it, I'm going to put it up here again.
"I'm just a trigger-puller, bro. You're supposed to tell me what to shoot at."
He laughs. "I resigned, remember?"
"Yeah, dickhead. The new guy's an idiot."
"Not my problem."
But it's nice to be missed. At least for a little while.
Neither man has spoken to each other since. Neither even knows if the other's alive.
"When are you leaving?"
He shrugs. "I don't know. Thursday."
Little did either know, the sooner he leaves, the sooner the other's life falls apart.
One's off finding himself. The other's trying to save his marriage. Neither really knows what they're looking for.
"All talk. That's all you are. Fucking talk."
He smiles. "My foot's broken."
"Tired of walking, is all. It hurts."
There was never a light at the end of the tunnel. People like them rely on night vision. Eyes open, eyes closed... makes no difference.
Both have experienced the heights of success. Both have lost it. One is content to stay at the bottom. The other's scratching his way back to the top. Neither can explain why their choices are important to them.
"I have to admit, when you said 'leave it all behind,' you meant it."
He frowns. "Nah, not really."
"Then why did you?"
"You can only turn your back so many times before they forget what you look like."
Forward is the only direction, whether they like it or not. It's all about time. And the clock doesn't turn back.
One often forgets what day it is. The other counts the seconds on his watch. Neither admits they just want to be kids again.
"You missed the funeral. You never miss a funeral."
He nods. "I can't handle it."
"Oh, come on. Nine years and I only ever saw you break down once."
"You never saw me at home."
It is not the recall of memories that depresses them. It is the imagining of memories never made. A reminder that it's too late now.
Often, the faces of those they'll never see again haunt their dreams. For both, following dreams means something else, entirely. Neither will confess that there's nothing that they want to follow.
"You moved again?"
He grins. "That's a surprise?"
"No, I guess not. You ever going to settle down?"
"When I'm buried, I'm sure."
There's something strange about constantly being in situations that are designed to kill you. The dichotomy of keep moving and keep your head down confuses the meaning of life, if there ever were a meaning of life. Being safe is unnatural state of living.
Neither will ever figure out that war is the only place they'll ever feel at home. Too many people will tell them otherwise, will tell them that they're wrong.
Too many people talk too much.